When Lindsey Roy woke up after emergency surgery in August 2013 to find that her left leg had been amputated below the knee and her right leg and arm were severely damaged, she told her husband she would become a speaker and write a book about her story.
The previous day, she was enjoying a fun weekend with her husband and friends at Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas. As some friends were moving an anchor, the boat was swamped and went into reverse. Roy was sucked underwater. It was a freak accident and no one was at fault, but it was an event that would forever change her life.
“While I was trapped under the boat, it felt like surreal slow motion,” she said. “I thought I might die. But I thought of my two beautiful children and willed myself to swim out despite the situation and the injuries. It really was one of those moments where time froze and God was there to help me.”
After a helicopter ride to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri, and lifesaving emergency surgery, the reality of her situation began to sink in. She was already counting her blessings. Her head and torso were untouched by the propeller blades and her young children were not there to witness such a traumatic scene. She learned that she would be a great candidate for a prosthetic leg. Prolonged physical therapy would restore the use of her right arm.
One month later, Roy took her first tentative steps on her new prosthetic leg and a photo captured a glowing smile. In January 2014, she returned to work at Hallmark on a part-time basis. One month later, she had major surgery with a tendon transfer which would allow more dexterity for her right leg. A few months after that, she was walking and driving again, via a new normal.
Since the accident, Roy has shared her story several times to groups of Hallmark co-workers. She has also spoken at numerous church groups, schools, companies and mom groups about her experience.
TEDxKC co-founder and curator Mike Lundgren reached out to Roy earlier this year and invited her to speak. The timing was perfect and helped fulfill Roy’s post-surgery words about becoming a speaker to share her story.
“This year’s theme was ‘Perspective, where you stand matters’ and it could not have been more perfect for my content which is all about perspective,” Roy said.
TED talks were originally created to spread ideas in short, inspiring talks of 18 minutes or less. It began in 1984 as a place where technology, entertainment and design merged together.
Kansas City hosted a TEDxKC event Aug. 19 at the Kauffman Center.
“TED is not a classical inspirational genre, it’s focused on ‘ideas worth spreading’ so I really needed to hone in on unique insights I learned more than the actual story – that was simply the backdrop,” said Roy.
Noting that it is physiologically easier to be negative than positive, Roy’s talk encouraged attendees to have more positive thoughts, which she equates to exercise for the brain.
She recognizes that the power of a positive perspective can be short-lived unless ways are found to make them last. Roy’s talk was so inspiring that she received the only standing ovation of the evening.
“I hope people take away from my TED talk that they have the built-in ability to use the power of perspective to change their outlook on life,” Roy said. “Perspective is not only powerful, it is free and abundant for us all.”
That perspective was key to help her children – who were 2 and 4 years old at the time – understand what happened. After seeking advice on how to handle the situation with their children, Roy and her husband, Aaron, took an honest, positive and calm approach.
The movie “A Dolphin Tale” had just come out which provided a great metaphor. The movie was about a dolphin whose tail was lost in a crab trap. A prosthetic tail was surgically attached and the dolphin had to learn to swim again with it.
“My kids were so accepting, helpful and empathetic. I think they learned a lot of lessons they don’t even realize they learned yet. But they see the adaptation I have to face on a regular basis and therefore have built-in lessons on resilience and maintaining a positive attitude,” said Roy.
Beth Kornegay is a freelance writer covering news and events in the city of Basehor. If you have a story idea, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org